Patients' Experience of a Regional Allergy Service.
Publication date 2013-09-02
This article is from Journal of Public Health Research, volume 2.
AbstractBackground: The principle reason for referral to specialist allergy clinics is to establish diagnoses and provide treatment plans to help patients manage their allergy. If patients do not accept, understand, or remember diagnoses or treatment, clinic visits may have been a waste of time. Few specialist allergy clinics follow up patients after diagnosis. Design and Methods: This was a postal survey to assess patients’ i) perception of usefulness of specialist allergy clinic visits, ii) understanding of their allergy, iii) confidence in managing it, and iv) response to joining a regional online forum. Data for patients with confirmed allergy who attended the Peninsula Allergy Service (PAS) from 1998-2009 were extracted from consultant letters to general practitioners. Postal questionnaires were sent to 933 patients; 39% (336) responded. Results: Two-thirds (63%) thought their clinic visit useful and resulted in them being more in control of their allergy; 9% thought it useful but they still had problems, 26% thought it had not been much use. One in six (16%, 55) respondents had major differences in their view of their allergy compared to that recorded by PAS. Over half (56%) had had further symptoms since their clinic visit and 120 patients, who were not confident in coping with their allergy, listed aspects of their lives that gave concern. Conclusions: Specialist clinics need routine feedback from patients if they are to monitor their effectiveness and some better form of follow up for patients is needed to reinforce education and support patients. Public education is important.Significance for public health: Although there is a great deal of information available about allergy on the Internet, in the media and via word of mouth from family and friends, unfortunately a fair proportion of this is misleading, inaccurate and even potentially dangerous. The main role of a specialist allergy service is the diagnosis and management of allergies and patient education during the consultation. This audit of patients diagnosed with type 1 allergy showed that a small but significant proportion may not have understood or accepted their diagnosis, others may not be confident in coping with their allergy, and over half had further symptoms after discharge from the clinic. The effectiveness of specialist allergy services will be diminished if there is no longer-term follow-up of patients. Public health education is also important so that patient expectations about the role of allergy services are realistic.
Issn 2279-9028 (Print) 2279-9036 (Electronic)
Journaltitle Journal of Public Health Research
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